Following Jesus 40
As we examine the Twelve Disciples of Jesus, we now begin to view the second group of four. Following Philip, Nathanael and Matthew is Thomas. How are followers of Jesus today like Thomas? Let’s begin by looking at some facts regarding the disciple Thomas, who is also known as the Doubter.
What do we know about Thomas? One of the first things we think about when we hear of Thomas was he was a doubter. However, he is so much more than that. The Apostle John in his gospel gives us the only information about Thomas. There are three chapters in John that feature Thomas. They are John 11:14-16, John 14:1-5 and John 20:24-29. It is from these three narratives that we will glean information about our brother disciple.
To begin with, a follower of Jesus who is dedicated to Christ, but realistic about the world. John 11:1-16. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (John 11:14-16 ESV).
The selected section is taken from John 11:1-16. The context deals with the death of Lazarus, brother to Mary and Martha and a friend of Jesus. Within the discussion of whether or not to make the journey to the Town of Bethany upon hearing of Lazarus’ illness, and subsequent death, the debate surrounds the danger lurking for Jesus and His disciples in Judea. Jesus’ enemies have sworn to kill Him and this might be just the opportunity they would need.
John 11:14-16 informs us that Thomas was a twin. The text also informs us that Thomas was a man who could take initiative. “Let us also go,” Thomas was referring to Judea. Even though he and the rest of the disciples knew the potential and probable danger (John 11:1-8), Thomas was ready to make the journey if that is what Jesus wanted to do.
At the same time, Thomas was ever the pessimist. His previous statement is coupled with the following remark: “…that we may die with him.” A pessimist may be a doomsayer, a cynic and a defeatist. Thomas certainly sounds that way by this statement. He knew the political and religious climate in Judea and Jerusalem. He was not an ignorant man of current events.
However, Thomas was also determined. He was ready to die with Christ. In fact, he expected that was what was going to happen. As one pastor writes, “Thomas was ready to die with Christ, perhaps because he could not think of living without Christ.” This is a man of love and faith.
This is what followers of Jesus are to be: people of initiative who are aware of current issues but still determined to give it their all for the Savior. Soli deo Gloria!
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